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With the official opening of the 2011/12 NBA transactions period, Hoop Diary are going to dive into some of the deals and signings made already, pick them apart and try to suggest better options. Today we begin our journey through the league, ignoring conferences and divisions and travelling alphabetically, with A through D. First, to Atlanta…
The Atlanta Hawks are in the worst of positions, knowing they have a roster that has peaked and they are locked in for a solid and unspectacular regular season and an early exit at the hands of a better club. They’ve again taken the wait and see approach signing veteran Tracy McGrady in the hopes he can add some bench scoring and perhaps some offensive inspiration in some minutes at the point.
The better option for Atlanta is to significantly make over their roster and play to their strengths. They don’t play as a run and gun team, so getting a post option would be best. A swap with the Lakers of Josh Smith for Andrew Bynum works under the cap, both players have two years left on their deals and additional players don’t need to be added. The Lakers likely say yes as it lets them get more athletic (and healthy) and while Phil Jackson would have likely done wonders for Smith, the strong will of Kobe and a change of scenery is the tonic for what ails Josh Smith. As for Atlanta, the addition of Bynum allows Al Horford to slide to his natural position as a 4 where he is a beast defensively and his pick and pop or high post passing game can really benefit the rest of the team in better spacing.
The League has been waiting for the year that the wheels fall of the Celtic’s plans of building through veteran talent, and this is surely that year. There is no way that KG’s surgically repaired knee’s stand up to the rigor of a condensed 66 game season as the man only knows how to play at one speed. Ray Allen will likely fare much better as will relative youngster Paul Pierce, but the rest of the roster will likely struggle as well. Jermaine O’Neal has been unable to get healthy at all and he is certainly no starter anymore. Rajon Rondo will struggle, but it will be for a non-physical issue, he is suffering from a bruised psyche after being shopped so hard.
The Celtics could use the amnesty on Garnett’s mammoth deal, but they are unlikely to be able to improve themselves via trades and signings this season so may as well stay the course and see what avails itself next offseason and hope for the best.
They won a championship and had a chance at a few more, so they have no right to complain about a down year. This roster has given them all than can be expected of it.
The Bobcats are just awful, sorry Bobcats fans but it’s true. Who am I kidding, there are no Bobcats fans. The biggest name on the team is Michael Jordan and the second biggest is Larry Brown. The best player on the roster is either Boris Diaw or Ty Thomas and they wouldn’t start for over half the leagues teams. Add to this heartbreak that MJ drafted probably the worst player in the NBA this season in Bismack Biyombo and there is not a single reason to feel hopeful. My suggestion to Bobcats fans is to pretend the lock out is still continuing and check back next year.
Bulls fans expect the team to be on the verge of something fantastic but the truth is they overachieved last year and are likely for a bit of a drop this year. They could use some big time help on the wing but while there are a few shooting guard options around, none are going to make a huge difference. The best of the bunch by far is Aaron Afflalo and he is a medicore player who doesn’t make mistakes and that’s the BEST the Bulls can hope for. There are better options out there which can leverage this roster.
They are still an elite team but to win a championship they need to swing for the fences. Putting together a package of Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, picks, cash and a kitchen sink for Orlando’s Dwight Howard (and J.J. Redick).
Sure, Noah is a nice defender but he is perhaps 70% of Howard and Dwight helps on the offensive end as well. It also opens the door for the Bulls to amnesty Boozer and erase that mistake should Boozer not bounce back to his Utah form after a disappointing season, getting them six million under the cap.
The Cavs have really started to turn a corner. They have the biggest fool of an owner not named Donald Sterling, but otherwise their roster is looking much better than it did 12 months ago and there are lots of reasons to be hopeful. Kyrie Irving is a big question mark since he played so little in college, but all indications are that he is going to be at least an All Star talent, if not a superstar. Add to this the new provisions that may allow the Cavs to keep him beyond his rookie contract and a roster that is poised to grow around him and the signs are positive. So what do the Cavs need to do?
Basically, just not panic and fill the roster with short sighted long term deals and allow the team to grow organically. See what Baron Davis can give you and more importantly what he can give Irving, and if that doesn’t work trade or amnesty him out of town. Wait for next years’ crop of free agents when the Cavs will likely be 20m or so under the cap and see what you can orchestrate. Next season will see teams looking to shed a superstar or two as the more stringent tax laws come into effect. Bide your time Dan Gilbert, bide your time.
Dallas are in an awkward position, having just lost their second most valuable player, the whole dynamic of their team has shifted. They are *gulp* now entirely dependant on Brendan Haywood to anchor the defense and stay healthy.
Much like with Cleveland, the best course of action is likely to be standing pat and seeing what you have before getting carried away with Cuban-ish trades which make over this team. Their window for winning another title is extra thin so hoping that the old bones of Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion can mesh with the young legs of Roddy Beaubois and Rudy Fernandez to repeat the magic of last season.
The Nuggets have a full team under contract, but not many who can actually play this season. Thanks China!
That said, there is a very solid foundation here, and as long as they don’t go silly in a bidding war for the overrated Nene they will continue to be in a solid position during the next offseason, whilst also able to build some chemistry with this young group. The Nugs are likely to secure a low playoff seed out west as many teams are dropping away like Portland, San Antonio and New Orleans.
To reiterate, the most important thing for the Nuggest to do is not overspend on Nene. Secondly, they need to use any cash to match offers for Aaron Afflalo, as he is going to be a vital piece for them long term. If they can assure other teams they will match offers for him, they have the chance to sign him for a reasonable price. Publically stating they won’t match offers for Nene may be the best way to achieve this.
The Pistons have done an amazing job of assembling a medicore roster with parts that don’t fit together while paying a high price overall. How Joe Dumars has developed a reputation of being a masterful GM is beyond me, as it appears much more likely that he lucked into several decent players who happened to click together and win a championship in a particularly low point talent-wise for the NBA.
That said, this roster is salvagable and here is how.
- The scary part is that Rodney Stuckey is the key. He must be resigned as he is the only player who the team is able to build around.
- Prince has been re-signed at a reasonable amount and this is the second biggest key.
- Sign Nene to a 75M deal. Yes I just spoke about how Nene was overvalued, but this roster is terrible and they need to gamble to get out of the mess they are in.
This leaves the Pistons with a combo guard in Stuckey who can break down defenses and feed the high percentage game of Nene. Greg Monroe is able to play in a big lineup with Nene with both players capable of playing PF or C. The key point in this is it allows Charlie Villanueva to come off the bench where he is going to be most effective. He has a horrible deal and he really isn’t that effective, but he is best suited to being off the bench. A lineup of Stuckey, Gordon, Prince, Monroe and Nene can get back to the playoffs in the East. It’s a fact.
Check back tomorrow for the next installment of the Transation Review.
Ryan Baker is on Twitter @HD_RyanB